By Joyce Sparrow, Guest Contributor to Authentic Florida
Fort De Soto Park on Tierra Verde in Pinellas County is celebrating its 50th Anniversary this year. Fort De Soto is a 1,136 acre park made up of 5 interconnected keys. After the Spanish American War, Tampa Bay citizens demanded protection from Cuba.
Fort De Soto was opened in April 1900 and dedicated as a Pinellas County park on May 11, 1963. Today it is known as a home for native plants and seven miles of pristine beaches. Fort De Soto was named America’s Top Beach in 2009 and the #1 beach in America by Dr. Beach in 2005.
I just returned from a two night Fort De Soto camping trip. Camp site #26 offered a waterfront view that was ideal for launching the kayak for fishing trips. Trout and red fish are abundant in Fort De Soto waters, as are the dolphin, turtles, manatees and small black tip sharks. The camping areas are maintained each day and the bathroom and shower facilities are private and clean. Anyone who promotes Fort De Soto is obligated to mention the pesky raccoons. Whether you are picnicking or camping, you must protect your stored food from the raccoons.
By the way, nearby is Shell Key, accessible by shuttle or boat. Don’t miss it while there. Read more about Shell Key through Authentic Florida’s story.
Joyce Sparrow writes “Florida Reads” the book review column for the Florida Library Association’s publication, Florida Libraries. She also publishes book reviews in Library Journal. Contact Joyce at ReadFlorida@gmail.com.